First it was fireworks. Now it’s 1986 uniforms. Will the Mets ever learn that anything, with bad play, can be mercilessly joked about?
Last night, the Mets advertised fireworks after the game, and took their promise literally, not providing any during. Then today, wearing 1986 throwback uniforms, they proved that even in 1986, starting the season 2-3 can’t have been fun.
Losing to the Phillies is never fun, in itself: the Phillies are an awful group, nothing short of loathsome, and every sight of Ryan Howard fumbling and still inexplicably succeeding at anything is enough to turn any self-respecting Mets fan’s stomach. So losing to the Phillies twice was even worse.
What I didn’t expect, though — well, maybe I expected it, but I hoped not to hear it — were the grand pronouncements of doom from the stands, the shouts that Terry couldn’t manage and Harvey was a bust and Cespedes was done and Walker had to learn to take the bat off his shoulder. I know it’s been only five games of the season: everyone who’s cared enough to follow them closely enough knows that. And despite what the instincts of short-memoried Mets fans everywhere are saying, five games is not a representative sample.
I remember another season that the Mets started 2-3: it was last year. They went to the World Series, and could have won it. I remember another as well: it was 1986. We all know what happened that year, and a 2-3 start didn’t detract from it.
I thought Mets fans were supposed to be optimists, always believin’, always ready to leave the ballpark after a loss with our heads held high, finding the silver lining and looking forward to tomorrow. And let’s not pretend that there wasn’t anything good about today’s loss to the Phillies, because there was.
David Wright, whose career most of the Mets online community had declared finished after his ofer on Opening Day, had two hits, both line drives, a single and a double. Yoenis Cespedes, who many had declared a dud after his three strikeouts yesterday, had two hits of his own, including a lined shot of a two-run homer. Jim Henderson pitched another perfect inning; struck out the side, in fact.
And furthermore, the Mets were wearing the 1986 throwback uniforms, the most beautiful jerseys in history and the only indicator available that the Mets care at all about their history. Michael Conforto, directly below my seat in left field, wore racing stripes. It was absolutely outstanding, a positive if there ever was one.
But no one in the stands saw these, at least as far as I could hear. The narrative of the season so far, among bloggers, fans, and media personalities, has been twofold: that if anyone declares the season lost based on a few games, they’re crazy, but if I, personally, do so, I have my reasons, and I’m indubitably correct.
“I guess no team is allowed to have a bad game,” said a fan sarcastically yesterday, and I was sure they agreed with the relatively solid assertion that four or five games is no way to judge an entire season. Then, I heard what they said next.
“But there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about Cespedes.”
I’ll say it now, and avoid any possibility of being less than clear: if you’re passing judgement on the season after five games, you’re nothing more or less than a loon, whether or not you believe you’ve seen something crucial that the rest of the world has missed. Things can change: they can change over the course of a few days or a week, as we’ve seen, but they can also change in hours, or minutes.
Neil Walker has been here for all of a week: let’s hold off on declaring that he needs to work on his approach until we’ve seen more than five games worth of hitting. Addison Reed is a proven reliever: let’s make sure he’s actually completely forgotten how to pitch before we declare, as I heard one fan do this afternoon, that if he doesn’t pick it up, we’re going to have to bring Tyler Clippard back. And Yoenis Cespedes has hit at least 20 home runs in every year of his career: until we know that he won’t at least do that, let’s hold off on calling to pinch hit for him.
We’ve got a good team: even through these two losses, that much has been abundantly clear. Despite the Mets fan reflex that says that everything going wrong will never turn right, that’s just not how things work. Granderson will hit, despite the worry of every Mets fan, which is that between last year and this year he developed an incurable hitch in his swing and will never reach base again. Walker will hit. D’Arnaud will hit. Cespedes will hit. Wright will hit. Cabrera will hit. Duda will hit. They’ll all hit.
And if not? Hell, we’ll have one long season ahead of us. But we’re five games into the season, and there’s been nothing to suggest that our entire team has taken a step back, and everything to suggest that we’ll be just fine.